AT&T disses Incompas’ 1 Gbps broadband definition proposal

Broadband photo
AT&T also called out the previous FCC’s regime to establish 25 Mbps as the definition of broadband.

AT&T says Incompas’ proposal to the FCC to raise the broadband definition from 25/3 Mbps to 1 Gbps will create an unrealistic environment that reaches beyond the current usage realities.

In a new FCC filing (PDF), AT&T said that the industry advocacy group does not provide any clear evidence to change the current benchmark to a faster speed.

“Commenters seeking to avoid the obvious finding that Section 706 is satisfied propose to move the goal posts even further – proposing speed benchmarks even higher than 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, and as high as 1 Gbps (download speeds),” AT&T said in its FCC filing. “These commenters provide no basis for this new benchmark other than that these are the next-generation services and that providers have begun to deploy them. But this approach would ensure that the Congressional standard in Section 706 could never be satisfied, as the goal posts are constantly moved out to the over-the-horizon generation of technology as opposed to the current advanced generation that is meeting the needs of customers.”

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In September, Incompas told the FCC that it should consider raising the bar to define broadband as a 1 Gbps connection while upholding “its requirement that Americans have access to both high-speed fixed and mobile networks.”

“The Commission’s metrics for determining if fixed broadband is sufficient should take into account competitive offerings, current advertising by broadband providers, and future network needs,” Incompas said in an FCC filing (PDF). “Gigabit service is here and will support future uses. It is time for the FCC to update the speed for fixed broadband to 1 Gig.”

But Incompas’ proposal isn’t the only broadband element AT&T is taking to task.

The service provider called out the previous FCC’s regime to establish 25 Mbps as the definition of broadband.

“There is broad agreement that the Commission’s prior selection of a 25 Mbps/3 Mbps speed benchmark for tracking the progress of the deployment of fixed services was arbitrary, and that if the Commission retains that standard here, it should explicitly clarify that the 25 Mbps/3 Mbps is not the threshold for defining what constitutes “broadband,” AT&T said.

According to AT&T’s analysis, a large portion of its own customers that subscribe to a 25 Mbps or higher speed hardly use that amount of bandwidth for their daily activities.

“There is certainly no basis therefore to conclude that Americans lack advanced telecommunications services if they do not have even faster services,” AT&T said. “Moreover, adoption of a 1 Gbps benchmark for Section 706 purposes would create an even larger and unjustifiable disconnect with the minimum standard for universal service funding, which is an entirely reasonable 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.”

AT&T’s comments come as the FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry to figure out if the regulator should realign the 25/3 Mbps broadband definition set by former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. Previously, the benchmark was 10/1 Mbps.

There have been calls to lower the requirements for high-speed broadband benchmarks from 25 Mbps back to 10 Mbps. Opponents like Incompas and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel say such a proposal could redefine Section 706 standards to say that the availability of a wireless network offering 10/1 Mbps is sufficient broadband availability.